Author Topic: Incarnation  (Read 743 times)

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Offline Arnaud

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Incarnation
« on: February 05, 2011, 02:02:05 PM »
Greetings, in the Name of the Holy Trinity, all powerful and sovereign !

The incarnation is a mystery, not simply because God the Word is born of a Virgin, but because the divinity united with the humanity, concretely, but without mix / change / confusion in the union. The Church also confesses that there is only ONE incarnation of God the Word.

I have no problem to accept it and I understand it in a limited extent. But let me ask ... given that the word " incarnation " is defined as : " the act of clothing with flesh, or the state of being so clothed ; the act of taking, or being manifested in, a human body and nature, " Cannot we say that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, becomes incarnate in the members of the Church ? Cannot we say that it is, in some way, the continuation of the incarnation of Christ ? Scriptures say that the human body is a temple for the Spirit, that if we are crucified with Christ, it is not anymore us who live, but Christ who lives in us, and that even the members of our body belong to Christ. Then, excepted the fact that Christ is born of a virgin, What is the difference between the manifestation of the divine Spirit in our human nature, and the mystery which happened in Christ ?

Selam

Mo'a Ambessa ze imnegede Yehuda !
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Offline Arnaud

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 02:02:52 PM »
Greetings, in the Name of the Holy Trinity, all powerful and sovereign !

The incarnation is a mystery, not simply because God the Word is born of a Virgin, but because the divinity united with the humanity, concretely, but without mix / change / confusion in the union. The Church also confesses that there is only ONE incarnation of God the Word.
I have no problem to accept it and I understand it in a limited extent. But let me ask ... given that the word " incarnation " is defined as : " the act of clothing with flesh, or the state of being so clothed ; the act of taking, or being manifested in, a human body and nature, " Cannot we say that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, becomes incarnate in the members of the Church ? Cannot we say that it is, in some way, the continuation of the incarnation of Christ ? Scriptures say that the human body is a temple for the Spirit, that if we are crucified with Christ, it is not anymore us who live, but Christ who lives in us, and that even the members of our body belong to Christ. Then, excepted the fact that Christ is born of a virgin, What is the difference between the manifestation of the divine Spirit in our human nature, and the mystery which happened in Christ ?

Selam


Mo'a Ambessa ze imnegede Yehuda !
The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered !

Offline minasoliman

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 02:11:47 PM »
Dear Arnaud,

Part of the mystery of the Incarnation is that the flesh of Christ is the very flesh of the Word of God.  When Christ grew up, ate, suffered, etc. it was in fact truly God the Word who grew up, ate, suffered, etc.  It was one hypostasis that experienced all human things.

The Holy Spirit does not experience human things.  It blesses and dwells in humanity.  It's like a coach side-by-side with you trying to help you get better for the team.

The Word of God is not a coach to His humanity.  The Word of God became human.  The Holy Spirit never became human.

That is why the Holy Spirit is not incarnate, but dwells in us.  The Word of God didn't merely dwell in His humanity.  He was human, as St. Cyril said, His humanity was His very own.
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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2011, 03:26:28 PM »
Well said, Mina!

Christ himself was human and God, by "essence." The Son of God literally became a single human person. The Holy Spirit is not a single, human person. He at times manifests through us (Lord, have mercy!) and definitely through the Church at large, but we cannot point to a single person and say, "He is the Holy Spirit incarnate!" We partake of the divine nature by grace, but that does not mean we are, at the core of our being, initially and wholly divine. That is reserved to Christ alone.

The energies/essence distinction of St. Gregory Palamas is really a beautiful aspect of Byzantine Orthodox theology. Even though that particular distinction is not part of the Oriental Orthodox tradition (St. Gregory Palamas is a fourteenth century Byzantine saint) I do not believe there would be any theological issues for them to accept it as Orthodox teaching, as hesychasm did not develop in the same way (nor with the same controversy) for the Oriental Church, and so that enunication of the Faith was not needed. It's simply a matter of a different tradition, even though the Tradition remains the same. ;)

Of course, this is coming from a big EO/OO ecumenist, so be careful or I may pollute your mind with ideas of false unity. :P
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Offline Arnaud

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 01:46:04 AM »
Quote
The energies/essence distinction of St. Gregory Palamas is really a beautiful aspect of Byzantine Orthodox theology. Even though that particular distinction is not part of the Oriental Orthodox tradition

It seems to me that it is. Orientals believe in deification ( the process of becoming " like God " by grace ) and they make the difference between the unfathomable essence of God and His divine energies through whom man can be united with God. One time I have read an article about that on a website of the Malankara Indian church ( an Oriental church ).

Quote
Christ himself was human and God, by "essence." The Son of God literally became a single human person. The Holy Spirit is not a single, human person. He at times manifests through us (Lord, have mercy!) and definitely through the Church at large, but we cannot point to a single person and say, "He is the Holy Spirit incarnate!" We partake of the divine nature by grace, but that does not mean we are, at the core of our being, initially and wholly divine. That is reserved to Christ alone.

Quote
Part of the mystery of the Incarnation is that the flesh of Christ is the very flesh of the Word of God.  When Christ grew up, ate, suffered, etc. it was in fact truly God the Word who grew up, ate, suffered, etc.  It was one hypostasis that experienced all human things.

The Holy Spirit does not experience human things.  It blesses and dwells in humanity.  It's like a coach side-by-side with you trying to help you get better for the team.

The Word of God is not a coach to His humanity.  The Word of God became human.  The Holy Spirit never became human.

That is why the Holy Spirit is not incarnate, but dwells in us.  The Word of God didn't merely dwell in His humanity.  He was human, as St. Cyril said, His humanity was His very own.

Thanks.

Mina, if our humanity ( body, soul, mind ) becomes unified with the humanity ( body, soul, mind ) of the Incarnate Word, through the baptism, Does not that mean simply that our humanity becomes that of Christ ? How can we be deified if our humanity is not united with Christ ?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 01:47:05 AM by Arnaud »
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Offline minasoliman

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 06:02:04 PM »
It's a mysterious unity.  So there's a level of incomprehensibility in it.

But we do know that Christ's humanity being perfect as it is, is point of reference where we aspire to be like.  He shapes our humanity to be like His, so that we may be able to partake of its life-giving qualities.  And that's the other part.  When we are healed and shaped into Christ's humanity, Christ's humanity is not just mere body, soul, and mind, but deified body, deified soul, and deified mind.

Have you heard of the analogy of the heated iron?  Well, this is where the energies/essence distinction comes into play.  Fire and iron are united, and transforms the iron into heated iron, into the glory of the fire itself.  When one touches the iron, it is no longer a cold iron, but now heated and it transfers heat to other irons it touch.  We partake of heated iron, not the fire itself.  We are formed into that iron's perfection by destroying our impurities, and we shine with that iron.

That's the extent of understanding our unity with Christ.  That does not mean we are hypostatically united with any divinity at all.  We are mystically united for our healing and our own glorification with Christ.  If we were able to be hypostatically united with divinity, we wouldn't need Christ and we wouldn't even need incarnation to begin with.
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Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Incarnation
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 08:24:47 PM »
The Holy Spirit does not take upon our flesh as His own, He simply comes and dwells in us. And our flesh comes to exist before this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, unlike with Christ where His flesh never existed independently from the Logos. As such, our instances of humanity are our own and hypostatically distinct from the Holy Spirit; the humanity of Christ is not its own, but rather that of the Logos.
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